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COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test: What is it and what does it do?

COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test: What is it and what does it do?

What is a COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test?

The COVID-19 Antigen Rapid test is an immunochromatographic assay that is used to rapidly detect (in less than 15 minutes) the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral antigens. These tests allow diagnosis of current viral infections, and these types of tests have been used in the past to detect several common respiratory pathogens including influenza viruses. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has granted emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for several antigen tests that identify SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

3d rendering model of SARS-CoV-2 virus (that causes COVID-19) with spike proteins

A 3D rendering of the SARS-CoV-2 virus particle reveals key insights about the spike proteins, which is one of the targets for COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests (blue). RBD = Receptor Binding Domain. (Credit)

Rapid Antigen Test vs. Molecular (PCR) testing vs. Antibody testing

Antigen Rapid Tests

Both the COVID-19 antigen test and the molecular test detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 to diagnose COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 antigen tests are relatively inexpensive and provide fast results in as little as 15 minutes. They do not require any additional instruments and provide a cost-efficient option to quickly test a large number of samples. These tests are especially helpful for screening larger populations or high-risk groups, which could help inform infection prevention measures and control transmission.

Molecular (qPCR) Tests

Molecular tests detect the presence of viral RNA and are commonly carried out using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays.  These tests are highly sensitive for the presence of RNA derived from SARS-CoV-2 and are considered the gold-standard for the detection of COVID-19. However, these molecular tests are labor-intensive and require specialized lab instruments and qualified technicians. The whole process, including sample collection, RNA extraction, qPCR amplification, and results analysis typically requires 8-10 hours to complete.

As the sensitivity of the Antigen rapid test is lower than molecular testing, negative results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection, particularly in patients who have been in contact with the virus. A confirmatory molecular diagnostic test using RT-PCR is recommended in these cases.

Antibody Tests

An antibody test on the other hand shows if people have previously been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and have circulating antibodies in their body. Aurora Biomed also offers a rapid antibody test that detects SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG antibodies in human serum, plasma, or whole blood. It is important to note that antibody tests cannot be used to diagnose a current infection.

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Aurora Biomed is now offering a COVID-19 rapid antigen test called the ‘Coronavirus Antigen Rapid Test Cassette (swab)’ which will help in detecting COVID-19 infections in as little as 15 minutes. The qualitative test has been CE certified and FDA-EUA authorized. Contact us today to learn more!

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